Government fails to recover Shs2.1bn from Bwebajja hotel

More than 11 years since government injected more than Shs 2.1bn in J&M Airport Road hotel at Bwebajja along Entebbe road but has not recorded any returns on investment.

According to the Auditor General’s report, as of June 30, 2016, the hotel directors had not issued government with a share certificate, despite the monies the government injected in the hotel ahead of the 2007 Commonwealth Heads of Government (CHOGM) which was held in Kampala.

Members of Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Tuesday directed the Ministry of Finance to move swiftly and recover the money to save the government from making a loss.

The Ministry officials appeared before the committee to respond to audit queries contained in the 2015/16 Auditor General’s report.

Lawrence Semakula who was acting as Accountant General at the time, wrote to the hotel’s managing director Goodra Tumusiime Behakanira on August 4, 2014, asking them to provide information on government’s networth and shareholding in the hotel so as to enable ministry to finalise the consolidation of its investments in its financial statements.

Tumusiime wrote back denying any knowledge of government’s shareholding in the hotel.

She said that since the transaction was carried and concluded by her late husband Joseph Behakanira, she had no knowledge about the entire transaction, and thus requested for some more time to search for and study the documents pertaining to this transaction.

“The late Joseph Behakanira and I were the only directors of the said company. I cannot make a company resolution alone to allot government her shareholding at this point in time,” Tumusiime wrote.

She however promised to get back to government once her application for orders that a single director passes resolutions on behalf of the company are granted by the High Court’s Commercial division.

The Secretary to the treasury Keith Muhakanizi, told the MPs that attempts by the Ministry to obtain the government shares had hit a snug since the hotel hasn’t been in operation.

This was however rejected by MPs who argued that the hotel has been operational since the CHOGM summit in 2007.

“The hotel has never operated. We tried our best to get share certificate but we failed,” said Muhakazini.

The Ministry is currently engaging the shareholders on how to obtain the share certificates and to recover the funds.

The ministry has in the meantime forwarded the matter to the Solicitor General for guidance on what legal action can be taken to recover the said funds and further management.